Young foal and adult horse monocyte-derived dendritic cells differ by their degree of phenotypic maturity

Catherine Mérant, Cormac C. Breathnach, Katharina Kohler, Cetewayo Rashid, Patricia Van Meter, David W. Horohov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Newborn foals are very susceptible to infections by opportunistic pathogens such as Rhodococcus equi. This susceptibility is thought to be due to the immaturity of their immune system, in particular their inability to produce interferon-gamma. This deficiency may result from an insufficiency in accessory signals. We therefore compared monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDC) from foals and from adult horses. CD172, MHC-I and MHC-II were generally expressed on more than 90% MoDC from foals and adults. CD1w2+CD86+ cells tended to be less represented in 2-3-week-old foals than in adults. This difference was significant among CD14- cells. The percentage of CD14-CD1w2+CD86+ cells tended to be increased at 3 months. This suggests that very young foal dendritic cells are quantitatively less mature than their adult counterparts. The expression of IL-1, IL-12, IL-15 and IL-18 mRNA was not different in foal and adult MoDC, but the levels of TNF-α, IL-10, MCP-1 and TGF-β were lower in foal cells. TNF-α and IL-10 expression was increased by LPS; TNF-α even reached the level of adult MoDC. This may mean that the lack of IFN-γ in foals is not due to decreased levels of IL-12, IL-15 or IL-18, but rather to lower constitutive levels of TNF-α.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 15 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Greyson Jockey Club Foundation. The USDA also contributed to C. Mérant's salary through the “US-VIRN” grant. The authors would like to thank Dr Paul Lunn (Colorado State University) for providing the anti-CD5, MHC-I, MHC-II and EqWC2 mAbs, Dr Jeffrey Stott (University of California, Davis) for supplying the anti-CD3 mAb and Dr Doug Antczak (University of Cornell) for giving the anti-B cell marker mAb. We would also like to thank Angela Shoergendorfer for her advice in statistics. Kevin Gallagher, Courtney Bourke, Eric Elza, Russel Lea, Pedro de Luna and Chad Tucker are also greatly acknowledged for their expert handling of horses and foals.


  • Cytokines
  • Dendritic cells
  • Equine
  • IFN-gamma
  • Neonate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary


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